Thursday, September 30, 2010

Big little Louie

If there was ever a dog who looked good in clothes, big little Louie is it.

I visited my friend Julie not long ago while she was dogsitting Louie for her parents. Louie is the biggest little Dachsund I’ve ever met and thanks to Julie, the most stylish as well.

When she brought Louie out in the stately sweater she’d purchased for him, I just had to get out the video camera to share the moment with all of you. See the video below.

Julie reports that her parents aren’t crazy about the sweater.

“But I swear, it’s just perfect for him. He looks so good in it!” she said, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Julie is one of the most stylish friends I have and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she managed to pick out the perfect outfit for a Dachsund too.

Now, there is a reason I’m calling the dog big little Louie. Obviously, he’s a small breed dog. Very small. But he’s pretty big for his breed.

Louie has a bit of a weight issue and he’s far from alone. The headline for an article published recently by MSNBC sums up the issue pretty well: “Great. Now our pets are fat, too.”

The article quotes CDC statistics that 34.2 percent of Americans older than age 20 were overweight in 2008 and 33.8 percent of that age group was obese. Our pets statistics are even worse: in 2009, 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were overweight or obese.

If my mother had her way, my dog would be part of that “overweight or obese” category. And most people are like my mother — they can’t eat in front of a dog without feeling guilty, or they over-treat a dog to make it happy, or they worry that the dog is hungry and since the dog can’t talk, they just assume it is hungry and continue to feed it.

Little dogs are even tougher to manage — we tend to give out treats often, and for a little dog, that can be dangerous. Especially if you’re keeping junk food treats in the cookie jar.

Human food is the biggest sin. That tiny corner of your sandwich is loaded with calories and carbs your dog doesn’t need. Table scraps are terrible.

But, human food can also be our savior in terms of slimming down our dogs. You just have to use the right human foods.

As someone who does positive reward training on a regular basis with my dog, Sensi gets treat overload when we go to work. For a long time, I tried to purchase small, low-fat dog treats to use during these sessions.

But I found something he likes much better and something that’s much healthier for him — vegetables.

Green beans and carrots are his favorite. He goes nuts for some frozen green beans. Potatoes, bananas, other varieties of beans, squash and even pumpkin — oh yes, this means Sensi loves Halloween — are good for your dogs.

And this is how I balance the feelings my parents have about feeding my dog with the beliefs I have about feeding my dog.

“Here, give ‘em some carrots,” I say, and then they can’t scold me for withholding human food goodness from him.

Sure, some dogs — you know, the ones who have grown up sampling McDonald’s until they refuse to eat kibble — won’t be interested. Most dogs will enjoy vegetables, though, and I encourage all of you to give it a shot.

Use them for treats. Use them for training. Use them when your dog is giving you those begging eyes for a bite of your sandwich. Use them when you can’t help yourself from assuming your dog is hungry and you must feed him to make him happy. Use them to take away the guilt you feel and replace that guilt with the feeling that you’re actually doing something healthy for your dog while providing him with food enjoyment.

If your dog is not a regular vegetable eater, though, start small. Big changes to a dog’s diet can cause some really messy digestion issues. Perhaps include a small portion of chopped veggies with his breakfast or dinner to help his tummy get adjusted to healthy foods.

And, never forget that there are lots of human foods — vegetables and beyond — that can be poisonous to your dog. Grapes and apple cores fall into the category. Check out a good long list of things not to feed your dog here.

Obesity can cause some very major health problems for dogs. Many overweight dogs will have to deal back problems, hip problems, arthritis, breathing issues and more.

One last tip: Let’s stop thinking we have to feed our dogs treats and table scraps to make them happy and instead, think of our dog’s happiness in terms of its health.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ypsilanti Twp. considering pit bull spay/neuter law

So often, local governments faced with a dog problem turn directly to breed bans to solve it.

I don’t and never will support breed bans. A moronic and irresponsible owner can turn any dog into a dangerous one, so my position is that breed bans are shortsighted and don’t do enough to protect people from all dangerous dogs, regardless of breed. Breed bans are ineffective at everything except discriminating against dogs and that’s all it really is — a type of discrimination that gives people a false sense of safety.

Ypsilanti Twp. appears to be thinking outside the box, however, and I fully support the ordinance they’re considering.

The ordinance would require all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered by Jan. 1, 2011. It would allow animal control officers to impound pit bulls who are not spayed or neutered and would be a criminal misdemeanor for the dog owner, punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and/or 90 days in jail.

Here’s what I like about it:
1) It is not a breed ban.
2) Neutering a dog gives it less reason to roam, as intact male dogs will often find a way out of their yards to pursue a mate.
3) Spaying and neutering dogs can also cut down on aggressive behaviors.
4) Spaying and neutering dogs cuts down their chances of getting certain types of cancers substantially.
5) It limits backyard-breeding. Backyard breeders are often people who care little about ensuring the parent dogs are of good breeding quality. A quality breeder will show you health tests proving their dogs don’t have health issues common for that breed. And with pit bulls, it’s incredibly important to get a puppy from a breeder who is specifically breeding for solid, friendly temperaments. Many backyard breeders are just looking to make a quick buck and with pit bulls especially, it can be a dangerous thing. Many backyard breeders of pit bulls are not very scrupulous folks and may even be breeding specifically for aggression and other unsavory characteristics, making things like the dog’s physique a higher priority than its temperament.

If there’s a pit bull breeder in the township who is producing champion show dogs, I’m sorry for their misfortune. And certainly, no breeders of champion pit bulls will be relocating to the township. But the fact of the matter is, there’s probably very few if any quality breeders like that in the township. So, this new ordinance will have little impact on serious breeders but will go a long ways towards stamping out backyard breeders — which I don’t think is a bad thing.

The Ypsilanti Courier published some evidence local officials are using to make their case for such an ordinance even stronger.

The township has a pit bull overpopulation problem and here are the numbers to prove it:
According to data provided by the Humane Society of Huron Valley, in 2009, 49.2 percent of all dog intakes in Ypsilanti Township were pit bulls. In 2009, the breed accounted for 50 percent of all euthanasia performed at the Humane Society of Huron Valley. For the top ten breeds taken in by the Human Society in Ypsilanti Township in 2009, 237 of the 432 were pit bulls.

(information from The Ypsilanti Courier)

The Courier is also reporting that the Humane Society of Huron Valley has a grant which will allow for free spaying and neutering of pit bulls in the township for at least the next year and a half.

This means the ordinance doesn’t have to create a financial hardship for anyone — even better.

Some residents are concerned the ordinance is a bit of a slippery slope, just one step away from a breed ban. But I don’t think that’s fair. I can’t think of one community that enacted a spay/neuter rule, period.

I can think of a lot of communities that went straight for breed bans, but none that considered a law like this.

I’ve weighed out the pros and cons of this and what’s the outcome? Five pros and just one con, which is the affect on quality breeders of champion show dogs — and like I said, there’s probably few if any of those folks in the township.

And last but not least, who really wants to defend the decision not to spay or neuter? Unless you are a quality breeder, there's no excuse. It is, in my opinion, an indefensible decision to not spay or neuter your dog.

I’ve got to give kudos to Ypsilanti Township for looking at a law that has so many positives for the pit bull community and so few negatives.

For those of you who disagree with my stance on this, here's an anti-BSL website to visit that is also writing about this ordinance being considered by Ypsilanti Township. I understand their points, but I'll maintain my position that this ordinance is a refreshing way to solve what statistics show is a pit bull overpopulation problem in that community.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adopt me!

I stopped by the Oakland Pet Adoption Center earlier this week — always a heart breaking venture.

Of course, I went straight for the big dog cages to check out who was available. A giant black dog listed as a stray picked up in Wixom stood quietly and calmly behind the bars. He was older, no doubt, and black, and large — that's three strikes against him. Three things most people don't want in an adoptable dog. As he smiled and gently wagged his tail when I got closer to his cage, I just felt so sad. Here was this stray, this even-keeled, friendly old man of a dog and what are the chances he might actually get adopted? Pretty slim. I wanted to cry. I've been thinking about him ever since.

And then there were the two hound dogs — I bet they'll go quick. Young, energetic, beautifully colored dogs. I keep thinking about them too.

There were a couple pit mixes and a Rottweiler. Will anyone adopt these guys? I don't know, and I guess that's what haunts me at night.

We can't adopt a dog right now. Sensi has made it clear that while he enjoys having dog friends, he doesn't want a live-in dog friend. He doesn't want to share us and now, especially with him being in his golden years, I don't want to make his life miserable.

But Brent and I have both decided that when the day comes that we say our final goodbye to Sensi, we'll head to the shelters to pick out a large and friendly dog. That's the only criteria. Large and friendly.

And so, I just can't get that old black dog out of my head. Please, somebody, adopt these dogs.

Here's video of all the big dogs that were at the Oakland Pet Adoption Center on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The center is located at 1700 Brown Road in Auburn Hills. Call 248-391-4101.

If you do adopt one of these dogs, let me know!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wishes for Wishbone: Vote for a local dog to win Purina Pro Plan’s ‘Doing More for Pets’ Rescue Stories Contest

A skinny dog was dragging around a tow chain from his neck, his skin red and hair falling out, and yet he was still walking — dazed and dehydrated, but searching for water.
The sickly dog spotted a water bottle in the hand of a man standing near a truck and cautiously, he approached the man, his eyes fixed on the water bottle.
This is how Wishbone was found.
The man holding the water bottle poured the water into the dog’s mouth. Wishbone was emaciated and covered in blood and scabs. The man couldn’t turn away from the dog and instead, put him in his truck and drove home.
A trip to the veterinarian’s office confirmed that Wishbone had sarcoptic mange, an awful skin condition that is difficult to treat. It causes the dog to scratch profusely, ripping out hair and creating open wounds.
To treat the condition, the dog has to receive “dips” often, sometimes more than once a day depending on the severity. A dip basically means the dog is bathed in a deep bath full of medicine. The treatment is time consuming and expensive.
The man with the water bottle sought help from rescues, making several calls to rescues in the Tennessee area where the dog was found. Nobody could help.
As a last resort, he reached out to a friend in Michigan who runs PupeLuv Rescue, Inc. The man offered to drive the dog to Michigan if the group could take him, and they agreed to do so.
“We were shocked at the condition of the dog that had nothing but love and kisses to give us humans,” wrote the group. “What monster could let this happen to such a beautiful soul?”
They coined the dog Wishbone, got him the veterinary care he needed to make a full recovery and even got him a very special foster home with a woman who was seeking a dog that would give her a purpose; a dog who needed more than just your average rescue.
Wishbone fit in so well at the Oakland County woman’s home that she decided to formally adopt him. Now, he’s healthy, fit and living it up with his new family
He’s even getting a little national attention.
Wishbone’s story was selected as one of ten finalists in the Purina Pro Plan “Doing More for Pets” Rescue Stories Contest. In order to win, though, he needs votes.
His story (plus a video about him) and the stories of nine other rescued pets are posted online at the Rally to Rescue website and clicking on the "Vote for your favorite rescue story!" link along the top. Voting is open through Oct. 1.
Wishbone is currently ranked number 7 out of the 10 rescue stories, so he needs lots of votes to move up to number 1!
A win for Wishbone would be a win not just for him, but for his owner and PupeLuv Rescue, Inc.
If he wins, an ambassador for the rescue group that took him in, Wishbone himself and his new owner will be awarded a trip to the National Dog Show presented by Purina in Philadelphia this November. PupeLuv Rescue, Inc. would also receive $5,000 in Purina Pro Plan brand pet food coupons.
Voting is easy. Just click here to be taken to the webpage, find Wishbone’s entry and check the box next to it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lions let me down

I like watching football, but I usually don't expect much from our Lions. And I wasn't expecting much of Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles either, but I was hoping with every bit of my heart that they'd pull out a win against the Eagles.

It was Michael Vick's first time as a starting quarterback since he was suspended from the league due to the dog fighting conviction.

Had the Lions beat Vick upon his return as a starter, it would've been such a sweet little victory for me.

Sure, Vick had his punishment. And sure, Vick is a talented football player. Lots of people just want to forget about this dog fighting blemish in his history and let him move back into the NFL starlight. And it appears that's exactly what will happen. His performance yesterday was good and the announcers were even predicating that at some point, Vick will be back in a permanent starting position with some team.

But I just can't get over what he did to those dogs. I can't help but think of how poor Rose suffered, her internal organs slowly seeping out because someone had kicked her in the stomach hard enough to break her body cavity. And how she suffered and suffered, the pain increasing over time until she could no longer walk. The poor dog suffered alone, no one there to stroke her or care for until the very last moments of her life.

I can't help but think of the dogs were hung, drowned or shot because they weren't game enough. I can't help but think of the female who had all her teeth removed so she didn't attack the males she was forced to mate with. And I can't forget all the dogs who were found to be not aggressive, but just scared — so scared they could barely bring themselves to move, frozen in fear of a world they'd never seen before.

One of the announcer's said Michael Vick was redeeming himself with how well he played football yesterday. Really? What is he being redeemed for? Nobody ever said Michael Vick was bad at playing football. But certainly, he was bad at owning dogs. In fact, I can hardly think of a worse dog owner in the NFL's history.

I don't want to hear about Michael Vick's redemption. Not when some of his dogs are still out there, still trying to overcome the intense fear Vick caused them to live with.

I can accept that Vick was punished, he's served his time and now he gets a second chance.

But that doesn't mean I have to forget about what he did. And certainly, I'd have jumped for joy if the Lions had crushed Vick's attempt to "redeem himself."

Of all the times the Lions have let us down by losing games, yesterday's loss was a bigger let down for me than the others.

Learn more about what happened to Michael Vick's dogs:
Want to receive a free copy of Jim Gorant's The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption? Email me ( with your name, address and phone number by Wednesday, September 29. One winner will be selected at random on September 30 and the book will be shipped to the winner's address.

Also, check out last week's review of this fantastic book — featuring videos of the rescued dogs and a photo of Rose, the dog mentioned above. Click here: Review of Lost Dogs book

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The dog who hates rain

I know I've written about this before: my dog hates the rain.
And snow, but he hates rain more.
Here's some examples of how much he hates and tries to avoid rain:

1) His potty area used to be just off a concrete patio flush with the ground that had a deck overhead, stopping much of the rainfall. Sensi would walk to the edge of the concrete patio, securely under the overhang and point himself toward the grass, lifting a leg to pee off the porch. He would not go past the overhang.

2) Sensi no longer has the above set-up, but it doesn't mean he'll brave the rain. If we force him to go outside, he'll stand on the edge of our front porch looking out, but he won't take a step off it. In fact, we can leave our front doors wide open while it's raining — Sensi won't even go into the foyer.

This morning, Sensi woke up, jumped down from the bed and looked out the window. I swear to you, he had this "Oh crap" look on his face. I know he was thinking about how bad he had to go to the bathroom and the fact that he couldn't go because it was raining.

But he had to go. I know he had can hold it like a pro, but not for eight hours. And with me on my way to work for the day, that's at least how long he'd have to wait.

So I came up with an idea: Use one umbrella for myself and another to hold over the dog. I totally realize how strange that is, so I thought I'd videotape us trying to figure it out for your amusement.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New book tells the tale of the Michael Vick pit bulls

*Read to the end and find an offer for a contest where you can win a copy of this book for free!

I remember the day the story broke; watching images from a news' helicopter hovering over the property of one of the NFL's superstar quarterbacks, Michael Vick.

I had this sense of pure disbelief at first. Professional dog fighting just doesn't happen anymore — or at least not often, or not well funded. And it was equally as difficult to believe that a man with such a high grossing career and so much at stake would be so stupid as to risk all that for what has got to be one of the cruelest and stupidest past-times mankind has ever conjured up.

The more the story developed, the more my blood boiled.

One of my husband's friends' fiercely defended Vick.

“He might've owned the property, but there's no way he was involved,” he said.

But as the situation unraveled, it became clear Vick was indeed involved — in fact, intimately involved — in the operation. He admitted his guilt and was suspended from the NFL indefinitely (though he now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles).

He also paid almost $1 million dollars in restitution and incredibly, the money was assigned to the care and rehabilitation of the 47 pit bulls rescued from his property.

The story might've shocked me to begin with, but the announcement that this money would go toward saving his pit bulls was the real jaw-dropping moment.

“Oh my God, did they just say what I think they said?” I asked my husband. “There's no way; most shelters euthanize pit bulls automatically, regardless of temperament. And pit bulls involved in dog fighting are always killed, always.”

I realized then that the Michael Vick case would be a pivotal moment for pit bulls — already, people had seen the dogs as victims, not monsters. And now, these dogs would give the world a chance to see that even pit bulls involved in dog fighting can become good dogs again.

I watched the TV program about the dogs that went to Best Friends Animal Society. It was a great program and fantastic to see how well the dogs were doing, but after that, it seemed like all news about the dogs had dropped off. There were no more follow-ups, no updates or where-are-they-nows.

So when I heard about Jim Gorant's book, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, I knew I had to read it. And I did — in less than 24 hours, in fact.

The story begins before you even open the book. A stout little brown dog sits on the front cover, one ear cocked goofily to the side and incredibly human-like eyes peering up in such a manner that you can't help but wonder what she's looking at.

Then you begin reading the first chapter, which starts off with “A brown dog sits in a field.” On the second page, Gorant describes this dog in greater detail, adding that one of the dog's ears folds differently from the other, so it makes “her look as if she's eternally asking a question.”

Reaching that sentence, I flipped back to the dog on the cover, studying her one ear sticking out to the side.

“That's got to be her,” I thought, and I stared into her eyes. “And he's right, she does look like she's full of questions.”

The book follows this dog, Sweet Jasmine, through all she experienced, and she's not the only one. Several dogs are profiled, starting at the Vick property and following them through kennel life, adjusting to foster homes and finally, enjoying a family of their own.

With no less than a touch of genius, Gorant weaves the story of the men involved in unraveling this case and all the obstacles they overcame to find the truth and successfully prosecute those responsible, the incredible efforts of those who fought to save, protect and rehabilitate the Vick dogs and not least of all, the lives of the dogs themselves.

Only two dogs ended up being euthanized because they were too aggressive, but Gorant does not stray from the gritty details nor hide the tears that were involved with rehabilitating the dogs. And that's the beauty of having a journalist — Gorant is a senior editor at Sports Illustrated — write a novel like this; Gorant tells the tale truthfully.

It is often a heartbreaking tale, but an uplifting and inspirational one as well. Take, for instance, the tale of Rose, a sweet pit bull whose injuries were too great to save. Before Rose was humanely euthanized, she nestled into a blanket and took a nap in a sunspot — probably her first time experiencing such comfort. A photo of Rose was taken as she napped with a look of great content on her sweet, sunshine-laden face. And that photo (included to your right, courtesy of Animal Farm Foundation) is just one of many included on eight glossy pages inside the book.

As I read through the book, I couldn't help but flip back to the cover of the book and peer into Sweet Jasmine's eyes, or flip to the photo section and find the dog I was reading about.

The book was fantastic. It was hard to set it down for even a moment and when I finished the book, I just wanted to thank Jim Gorant for writing it and writing it beautifully nonetheless.

Pit bulls continue to make bad headlines and as long as there are bad and irresponsible dog owners out there, they likely always will. But stories like this show that pit bulls can be great; even those who come from such terrible circumstances.

The title is entirely appropriate — the novel is truly a tale of 47 four-legged victims, their rescue and redemption.

Thank you, Jim Gorant.

Get a copy of this book for free
Want to receive a free copy of Jim Gorant's The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption? Email me ( with your name, address and phone number by Wednesday, September 29. One winner will be selected at random on September 30 and the book will be shipped to the winner's address.

Buy it now
Can't wait until September 30th to find out if you won a copy of the book? I don't blame you one bit. The hardcover cost is $26. Click here to be taken to the official website. On the left hand side, find a bunch of buttons linking you to multiple websites selling the book (, Borders, etc.) so you can shop around and get the best deal.

Oakland County: Gone to the dogs

Oakland County dog owner Mitchell Brown emailed me this morning to say thanks for the heads-up on the dog swims at county water parks this past weekend.
Mitchell said he took his dog, a yellow lab mix named Mellow, to the Red Oaks waterpark and said "We had a blast."
He added: "How about a shout-out to the event organizers, who did a great job at making it a big success?"
Sure thing, Mitchell.
I have to give kudos to Oakland County Parks and Recreation for all their dog-friendly events. From the most outstanding dog park I've ever been to (Orion Oaks on Joslyn Road in Orion Township) to a seemingly never-ending list of dogcentric events and outings, it really seems like Oakland County has gone to the dogs — in a good way, of course.
Even as fall descends on us, the events are not slowing down.
There's a rattlesnake recognition for dog owners coming up at Lyon Oaks dog park on Oct. 2, an MSU-UM game day tailgating party at all three dog parks on Oct. 9 and of course, a Halloween bash at Lyon Oaks on Oct. 16.
The events are all hosted by Oakland County, which also opened a third dog park at Red Oaks in Madison Heights earlier this year.
The county certainly seems to have caught on that residents love their dogs, love dog parks and love excuses to get out and about with their dogs.
Kudos, kudos, kudos.
Now, enjoy this photo of Mitchell's dog Mellow looking absolutely slap-happy while at the Orion Oaks dog park. (and thank you, Mitchell, for sending along this great photo. It made my morning!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dog Days: fall fun for your dog

Waterford Twp. — Register now to ensure your dog gets a spot at the annual Bow Wow Dog Swim held at Waterford Oaks Waterpark, 1702 Scott Lake Road. Only 75 dogs per slot will be admitted and there are a total of five slots, including two for large dogs and two for medium-sized dogs, and one for really small dogs. Pre-register for $10 — which includes an owner t-shirt, parking, entry, one 55-minute swim session and contest entry — by clicking here, or register for $15 at the event. Registration must be postmarked by September 6. Dogs that are 70 lbs. and larger can swim from noon to 12:55 p.m. or 3 to 3:55 p.m. and dogs between 31 lbs. and 69 lbs. can swim from 1 to 1:55 p.m. or 4 to 4:55 p.m. Dogs 30 lbs. and smaller can swim from 2 to 2:55 p.m. Only dogs will be allowed to swim. A contest for best wet look and best swimsuit will be held. Contact 248-858-4929 for more information, or email

Madison Heights — Oakland County will host its second Bow Wow Dog Swim at the Red Oaks Waterpark, 1455 E. 13 Mile Road. Only 75 dogs per slot will be admitted and there are a total of five slots, including two for large dogs and two for medium-sized dogs, and one for really small dogs. Pre-register for $10 — which includes an owner t-shirt, parking, entry, one 55-minute swim session and contest entry — by clicking here, or register for $15 at the event. Registration must be postmarked by September 6. Dogs that are 70 lbs. and larger can swim from noon to 12:55 p.m. or 3 to 3:55 p.m. and dogs between 31 lbs. and 69 lbs. can swim from 1 to 1:55 p.m. or 4 to 4:55 p.m. Dogs 30 lbs. and smaller can swim from 2 to 2:55 p.m. Only dogs will be allowed to swim. A contest for best wet look and best swimsuit will be held. Contact 248-858-4929 for more information, or email

Madison Heights — The 5th annual Pet Expo and Adoption Event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Madison Place, 876 Horace Brown Drive. Contests, raffles, vendors, kids games and more will be available, as will several local animal rescues with pets available for adoption. The Madison Heights Police Department will also give demonstrations with its K-9 officers. All attendants will receive a $5 PETCO coupon and can “adopt” a stuffed animal for $5, which will be donated to area shelters. For more information, go online to
Orion Twp. — Volunteers are sought to help clean up the Orion Oaks Dog Park dock area and Lake Sixteen, where dogs visiting the park can swim. The clean up will be from 10 a.m. to noon and volunteers are asked to meet in the Lake Sixteen parking lot off Joslyn Road just south of Clarkston Road. Kayaks will be available for registered volunteers and people are also welcome to bring their own non-motorized watercraft. The Clinton River Watershed Council will provide bags and gloves. Donations of tennis balls are also sought. To participate, call Kathleen Dougherty at 248-858-0704 or email
Waterford Twp. — Take your dog on a one-mile walk and help raise money for cancer research at the same time during the Waterford Fire Department Relay for Life team’s “Bark for Life” mini-relay. Registration begins at 11 a.m. at Waterford Parks and Recreation, 2303 Crescent Lake Road. The cost is $20 for the first dog and $10 for each additional dog. The group is also seeking donations to fill doggie goodie bags, which they hope to give away to all canine participants. All dogs must be on a six-foot-leash. The walk begins at noon and a best dressed pet contest will be at 1 p.m. Other games, contests, prizes and more will follow. Contact Melissa at 248-318-4664 or email, Holly Soranno at 248-663-3452, or go online to


Madison Heights — Enjoy an ice cream social with your dog from noon to 3 p.m. at The Pet Beastro, 27637 John R. Road. Canines can sample Yoghund frozen yogurt made for dogs will humans will be served regular ice cream. Caricature artist Rick Powell will be available for drawings and pet food samples will also be given away. Call 248-548-3448 or go online to

Wixom — Learn how to identify dangerous snakes and what to do to keep your dog safe during “Rattlesnake Recognition for Dog Owners” from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Lyon Oaks Dog Park, 52221 Pontiac Trail. Live snakes and displays will teach owners to recognize the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, Michigan’s only venomous snake. For details, call 248-858-0704 or email

Orion Twp., Wixom and Madison Heights — Take your dog tailgating from 10 to 11 a.m. at one of the county’s three dog parks (Orion Oaks, Lyon Oaks and Red Oaks) and be sure to your colors. Held to celebrate the MSU/UM football game day, the event will feature contests for the Best Furry Fan, the Best Furry Fan and Owner team as well as football-themed activities, contests and giveaways. Admission is free with park entry. Call Laurie Stasiak at 248-858-4929 or email

Wixom — Celebrate “Howl-O-Ween” with your four-legged friend from noon to 4 p.m. at the Lyon Oaks Dog Park, 52221 Pontiac Trail. Contests, activities for dogs, pet demonstrations, adoptions, vendors and more will be available. Attendants can also get special keepsake photos with their pooches. Admission is free with park entry. Call Laurie Stasiak at 248-858-4929 or email

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not a campground dog

I’m not a spontaneous person, but my husband is. I try to remember that a little spontaneity in life can be good and so, when the circumstances arose that allowed us to take a spur of the moment camping trip, I agreed to go, even despite my worries about incomplete packing, etc.
We were going to take the dog. How in the world can you find a dog sitter at a moment’s notice?
But then, the campground sounded like it would be packed and the lady sternly warned us that “barking dogs would not be tolerated” (which turned out to be a total lie; there were plenty of barking dogs) so we decided to see if my mother — also not a spontaneous person — would be available to dog sit. We were both surprised and happy to find out she was, so we left the dog at home.
We missed Sensi terribly. All the other campers brought their dogs. We felt so incomplete without him.
We got home yesterday and after a couple hours with our dog, it struck me that it probably would’ve been a bit selfish to bring Sensi if we had. As he flipped over and carefully arranged the throw pillows on the couch into a comfy little spot and nestled in for a nap, I realized he is not cut out for camping — at least not in cold, rainy weather.
Sensi doesn’t mind sitting or lying on the ground when it’s hot and he’s looking to cool down, but when it’s not hot, you won’t catch his butt near the bare earth. Even if he gets tired of standing, he’ll crouch into a sit position but hover his butt a couple inches above the cool ground.
He doesn’t like rain in the least bit. He’d rather hold his pee for hours on end than allow raindrops to fall on his head.
Sensi is the king of comfort and a glutton for warmth. He hates being cold; he dislikes being dirty; he doesn’t like sitting on dirt or even non-sod grass and he absolutely despises rain.
So it would not have been a good weekend for him — it rained every day except Sunday and was incredibly cold (temps in the 50s all weekend) for Labor Day weekend.
There is no doubt in my mind that while Brent and I sat beside our firepit with layers of clothing to keep us warm and umbrellas over our heads to protect us from the rain, Sensi would’ve begged to go inside the tent — curling up on his bed as close to the portable heater as possible.
“You did this to him,” Brent said to me last night. “You spoiled him rotten and now he’s like a little baby.”
When it comes to comfort, the dog is spoiled. There’s no ifs ands or buts about that.
But I do have one defense.
“He’s a good dog and I’ve never rewarded bad behavior, so I don’t care if he’s a little spoiled. At least he’s a good boy,” I say.
But that’s about all I can say, because he is one heck of a spoiled dog.